Kangaroos breezed through the Pool stages and now face New Zealand.
Australia have gone four matches at the World Cup without conceding a try, but coach Tim Sheens insists they are not undercooked ahead of their final against defending champions New Zealand.
The Kangaroos hammered a listless Fiji 64-0 in the semi-finals after also dispatching the United States (62-0) in the quarter-finals while registering pool wins over Ireland (50-0), Fiji (34-2) and England (28-20).
The Kiwis, however, were pushed all the way against England in their semi, a last-minute converted Shaun Johnson try sealing a dramatic 20-18 victory, leading many pundits to opine that the Australians had not been properly tested ahead of Saturday’s Old Trafford showdown.
Such is the disparity between the big three in rugby league – Australia, England and New Zealand – and the 11 other competing nations, whoever was to draw one of that trio in the semi-final was sure to have the hardest passage.
But Sheens said that the 11-try drubbing of the Fijians was deceptive.
“They’re a big physical side and all said and done, they finished fourth best side in the tournament,” the coach said.
“The scoreline doesn’t indicate just how much ice was on the guys after the game, I can tell you. They’re a big side that prepares us well for what is a big side in New Zealand this week.
“What I was very happy about was the fact that we kept going for 80 minutes, we didn’t drop off. Some sides have dropped off at times in the second half, but we didn’t do that.”
Sheens said that becoming the first Kangaroo side since the 1981-2 “Invincibles” not to concede a try for four matches had not been a goal.
“It was nice to get it but it wasn’t something we were really focused on,” he said. “The issue was to win the game, playing well and defending well.
“If we give up points against New Zealand, that’s not the end of the world. We’re not looking to beat New Zealand to no tries, what we’re looking to do is win the game. What we need to do is play the 80 minutes and get the little one percenters.
“Both sides will have issues at some stage – it’s taking advantage of that, we’re not superhuman, neither side. It’s going to be the efforts to cover up those issues… that limit the opposition, as good as they are, to score points.”
Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney hailed the intensity his side played with in the win over England at Wembley Stadium.
“We were pushed until the last 20 seconds and it took a pretty brave performance from the lads to get themselves in a position where we could come out winners in that game,” he said.
“I’ve got no doubt that’s going to be a benefit, but our performance in that game wasn’t really good at certain stages of the match.
“We know we’ve got some improvement to do and that’s been our focus this week – putting in our best performance.
“Regardless of Australia’s game in the semi-final and how they’ve won before, we’re well aware of what they’re going to throw at us. From our point of view we understand we have to be at our best and put in our best performance on Saturday.”
Both coaches have injury concerns, but Sheens said star full-back Billy Slater was back running in training after his knee injury sustained in the quarter-final rout of the USA.
And Kearney has wingers Manu Vatuvei and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and prop Frank Pritchard to worry about, with the latter at most risk of missing out on Saturday’s match.